U-turn welcomed by school bosses

Rick Wells, principal of Hartlepool Sixth Form College
Rick Wells, principal of Hartlepool Sixth Form College

A TOWN college principal has called for the education secretary to resign over the GCSE u-turn – accusing him of “playing roulette with the lives of young people”.

Rick Wells, principal of Hartlepool Sixth Form College, described Michael Gove as a “disaster” and says he is out to make a political legacy for himself.

The call for his resignation came just hours after the Government made a u-turn on plans to scrap GCSEs.

Mr Gove admitted in the House of Commons that proposals to axe the exams and replace them with English Baccalaureate Certificates in core academic subjects were “a bridge too far”.

Mr Wells said: “I’m not surprised because it was a stupid idea and I’m not surprised that in the face of overwhelming opposition, the man has backed off.

“I am surprised because he’s not known for backing off.”

Mr Gove confirmed that plans to have one single exam board overlooking each core subject will not go ahead.

But, GCSEs will still be reformed, with students sitting exams at the end of the course as opposed to module tests.

Mr Wells added: “What now will a teacher or parent or young person think a GCSE is going to be?

“My daughter is in Year 9, but I have no idea of what kind of exams she is going to be taking. As a teacher you are faced with total indecision, it’s almost as if the policies are being made up on the spot.

“The man is a disaster for young people, I think he should resign.”

Mr Gove said the new-look GCSE will include extended questions and less internal assessment.

He said they will help to achieve “a swift and significant rise in standards right across the country”.

The Government’s decision to reverse scrapping the GCSEs was welcomed by Andrew Jordon, headteacher at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, in the town’s Mapleton Road.

“I’ve got to be honest, I am surprised,” Mr Jordon told the Mail.

“I say that because there have been a lot of proposals that have had quite widespread opposition, but still gone through. But it’s good to see that the views of educationalists have been listened to and the consultation process has worked.

“We have thought for a long time that we would have to move to exams at the end of the course and we have been planning for that.”

Martin Robson, deputy headteacher at Manor College of Technology, in Owton Manor Lane, added: “The potential changes could have been put into place quite quickly without a great deal of thought. This now gives us chance to reflect for a longer period of time and make sure we work in favour of the students.”

Explaining his reasoning for the Government not pushing through the plans, Mr Gove said: “We have consulted on these proposals and there is now a consensus that the system needs to change.

“But one of the proposals I put forward was a bridge too far.

“My idea that we end the competition between exam boards to offer GCSEs in core academic qualifications and have just one – wholly new – exam in each subject was just one reform too many at this time.”